KKR’s billionaire cofounders Henry Kravis and George Roberts are stepping down after 45 years

KKR’s billionaire cofounders Henry Kravis and George Roberts are stepping down after 45 years

  • KKR said its billionaire founders, Henry Kravis and George Roberts, were stepping down as co-CEOs.
  • Co-presidents Scott Nuttall and Joseph Bae would succeed them, the company said.
  • Kravis, 77, and Roberts, 78, founded the private-equity firm 45 years ago.

KKR announced on Monday its billionaire founders Henry Kravis and George Roberts were stepping down as co-CEOs and being replaced by the firm’s co-presidents, Scott Nuttall and Joseph Bae.

The private equity giant said Kravis, 77, and Roberts, 78, would remain involved in the running of the firm as executive co-chairmen. 

The transition has been in the works for years and is unlikely to surprise the firm’s investors. 

Nuttall and Bae both joined KKR in 1996. Nuttall had previously spent less than two years at Blackstone, while Bae had a similarly short stint at Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s principal investments group.

KKR named Bae, 49, and Nuttall, 48, as co-presidents in 2017.

KKR’s shares have tripled in value and its assets under management and distributable earnings have doubled since Bae and Nuttall officially became Kravis’ and Roberts’ top lieutenants four years ago, KKR said.

Nuttall and Bae face a high-stakes challenge in replicating the successful working relationship of Kravis and Roberts, two cousins who started KKR 45 years ago. 

Nuttall helped take KKR public, a process that involved merging the firm with an Amsterdam-listed fund in 2009 and then moving the listing to New York in 2010. He has been a fixture on the firm’s quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts and also ran KKR’s capital markets, insurance, credit, hedge funds, and fundraising initiatives.

Bae has been the main driver of KKR’s expansion into Asia, making the firm one of the largest US private equity investors on the continent. 

By attracting money from some of the world’s largest institutional investors such as pension plans and sovereign wealth funds, KKR grew from a single $30 million fund in 1978 to more than $429 billion in assets under management currently.

Kravis and Roberts have an estimated net worth of $8.6 billion and $9.1 billion, respectively, according to Forbes.

The move leaves Blackstone Group Inc CEO Stephen Schwarzman, 74, as the only founder of a major publicly listed private equity firm not to have relinquished the role of chief executive, though his number two, president and chief operating officer Jonathan Gray, has been in line for years to succeed him.

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